A lot has happened since Tuesday’s shootout loss against the New York Islanders before the Canes head into their affair with the Buffalo Sabres tonight at the RBC Center. Let’s review, shall we?
- Both Jeff Skinner and Patrick Dwyer have been practicing in the proverbial “Hey! Don’t touch me!” yellow non-contact jerseys in team practices. This is certainly a step in the right direction for both players, as they continue to recover from their concussion symptoms. Dwyer practiced in a regular jersey today, so expect him back in the line-up in the next couple of games. As of today, Skinner was still in a yellow non-contact jersey.
- Joni Pitkanen had surgery done on his left knee Tuesday afternoon and is expected to miss 3-4 weeks. There has been no updates to back-up goaltender Brian Boucher, although he has been seen at practice in street clothes.
- The Canes sent down Zac Dalpe to Charlotte after playing 4 games with the club, registering 2 points. The club also sent down defenseman Derek Joslin down on a conditioning stint, which will last no longer than 14 days, unless Joslin consents to stay down for longer. Joslin got an assist in his first game played with the Checkers and also had 4 shots on goal.
- Brett Sutter has been recalled from the Checkers to (I’m assuming) center the fourth line. He was recalled yesterday and was at practice this morning. It will be his first game under new head coach Kirk Muller.
The game tonight should be a dandy. Buffalo is 3-5-2 in their last 10, but is coming off of a 4-3 win against the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday night. Drew Stafford had a goal and two assists and was a +3. Ryan Miller was in goal for the Sabres and recorded 23 saves on 26 shots for the victory. The Sabres are extremely injury-deprived, to say the least. Ville Leino has missed the last nine games with the club, but is starting to skate with the team. Both he and Tyler Myers (wrist injury) are on injured reserve. Joining them on the IR are forwards Corey Tropp (upper body) and Colin Stuart (lower body). Andrej Sekera, Christian Ehrhoff and Tyler Ennis are still out indefinitely with various injuries.
Back to the Canes, with the recent call-ups and players being sent down to Charlotte, the lines in practice looked different yesterday. Kirk Muller has placed Tuomo Ruutu and Jussi Jokinen on the top line with Eric Staal, with Brett Sutter sliding into the fourth line. Expect the lines and defense pairings for the game tonight to look like this:
Jokinen – Staal – Ruutu
Bowman – Sutter16 – LaRose
Tlusty – Brent – Ponikarovsky
Nodl – Sutter42 – Stewart
Gleason – McBain
Harrison – Faulk
Spacek – Allen
Unfortunately, there is no television for the game tonight, so make sure to head out to the RBC Center or tune in to 99.9FM The Fan for puck drop!